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San Francisco city leaders promise action after multiple violent incidents involving youth

Mall violence: San Francisco teen worries about her safety during surge of afterschool violence
Mall violence: San Francisco teen worries about her safety during surge of afterschool violence 03:45

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco city leaders spoke out Tuesday in response to a series of violent incidents involving SFUSD students, vowing to increase safety and support measures across the school district.

A joint statement released by Mayor London Breed, SFUSD Superintendent Matt Wayne and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors said the new plans "will leverage and expand existing city and school programs and strengthen partnerships to ensure youth and families are getting the services necessary to address root causes of violence."

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According to San Francisco officials, in just the last week alone, a gun was found on a middle school campus and a student was injured in a stabbing at Francisco Middle School. Other recent incidents of concern include a stabbing on a SF Muni bus by a 12-year-old suspect that left another boy in critical condition and multiple large fights among students at Stonestown mall.

"There are no excuses for violence, but there are steps we can take to prevent this kind of behavior from taking hold in our schools and our city," said Mayor London Breed. "As city leaders, we are committed to working together with the school district to make sure our kids are safe and have the support they need, especially after the incredible strain on our young people caused by the last few years."  

In the statement, Mayor Breed, Superintendent Wayne, and Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Myrna Melgar said several school safety programs are being expanded including the Street Violence Intervention Program and the SF Department of Children, Youth and Their Families' violence interrupter program.

"Stonestown is an asset to our neighborhood – it is our town square on the West Side, and a popular hangout for our young people, including my children who frequent the mall often. The youth who are sparking this violence must see that there are consequences for their actions, and account for the harm they are causing to their victims, but also to the community and the mall workers," Melgar said in the release. "The majority of the youth at the scene are bystanders who have been recording this violence live and posting it on social media, eliciting likes, and more followers." 

The District Attorney's office, the SF Public Defender's office, Juvenile Probation Department and Human Rights Commission have all recommitted to their investments in youth violence prevention programs in San Francisco, the release said.

There are also plans for the SFMTA to "hire additional Muni Transit Ambassadors, who are trained in de-escalation techniques, and ride specific Muni bus routes to assist customers, defuse and deter any conflicts, prevent acts of vandalism, and assist transit operators."

SFUSD will also collaborate with city agencies "to strengthen mental health support" and "coordinate specifically around school violence incidents that are of highest risk."

City leaders point to the pandemic as a cause for the uptick in student conflicts. 

"Our youth are still recovering from the devastating effect of the pandemic & we know it will take the entire City help them build up their social-emotional resilience" said DCYF Executive Director Dr. Maria Su.

Lauren Toms contributed to this report.

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